Vanderbilt heads to Humphrey Coliseum, a venue where Vanderbilt has yet to win in the Stallings era, to take on Mississippi State. While Mississippi State probably has a great amount of upside, they still haven't shown come close to reaching their true potential, at least based on their roster. In other words, their individual parts are still greater than their sum. As it stands, a Vanderbilt loss at this point would probably be more likely because the Commodores played down than it would the Bulldogs suddenly played with a great deal of cohesion.
Last season, Vanderbilt went to Fayetteville, another place they had never won prior during the Stallings era, and gutted out a nice road win. Can the Commodores pull off a similar feat this year in Starkville? Let's look at the matchup.
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According to Kenpom, Vanderbilt is currently the 15th ranked team, while Mississippi State is 173rd. That's quite a disparity, though the Bulldogs were without Dee Bost and Renardo Sidney for a majority of their games.
Based on their performances to date, Vanderbilt will be the second best offensive team and third best defensive team that the Bulldogs will have played so far this season. Combined, Vanderbilt is far and away the best team the Bulldogs will have played, as their next closest opponent, St. Mary's, is not nearly as good as Vanderbilt defensively. The best team Mississippi State has played at home this season, Alabama at 49th, is slightly better defensively than Vanderbilt but much slower in tempo and nowhere near as good offensively (Vanderbilt outscores Alabama by ~ 0.12 points per possession). Alabama won that game 75-57.
Mississippi State will be the 14th (of 19) best offensive and defensive team that Vanderbilt will have played this season. The closest opponent in similarity to Mississippi State that Vanderbilt has played is Davidson, a team Vanderbilt 80-52. Of course, Mississippi State and Davidson probably couldn't be further apart in terms of style, but their numbers line up quite well strictly in terms of offensive and defensive efficiencies.
Vanderbilt holds quite an edge in tempo free statistics both among the starting positions and at the bench. Of course, these numbers are not adjusted for the quality of the opponents, and Vanderbilt has put these numbers up against much tougher competition, which probably further widens the gap.
Four Factors: Vanderbilt has wide leads in OReb%, FTRate, and eFG%. Mississippi State holds a slim edge in TO%. Prediction: True to form, I think Vanderbilt will win FTRate and eFG% comfortably and will probably also win OReb%. I think MSU will take TO%, especially with the game being in Starkville.
Traditional Statistics - Mississippi St. Bulldogs
For Whom the Cowbell Tolls is the SB Nation affiliate for the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Tipoff is scheduled for 1800 CT and the game will be televised by ESPN2 (Comcast ch. 29 or 203 HD), though the game will also be available on ESPN3.com. Our open gamethread will go live about an hour before tipoff. Also, don't forget to head over to Stat-King to submit your predictions for the game.